If you have small kids, still in a stroller and you love nature, but are not the person to drag your child up a mountain peak in a back carrier, perhaps consider walking up Monte Bar, part of the pre-alps, located north of Lugano.
We went here early October 2014 upon the tip my Italian language teacher gave me. She’s a local and knows all the good spots in Ticino and she advised us this walk up Monte Bar as it’s possible to walk all the way to the Capanna Monte Bar with the stroller (pram). Should you want to climb the peak, which is not really a long hike from the Capanna, you will need to leave your child with your better half and walk up alone, or take a carrier after all. But in all honesty, you don’t need to hike to the peak as the views from anywhere along the walk up to the capanna, and from the capanna itself of course, are stunning!
Warm stuff: the mountain is quite high and it will always be a few degrees colder than in the valley. So, take a warm fleece and perhaps a light wind stopper jacket, just to be on the safe side. The day we went, November 2nd 2014, it was about 20 degrees in Lugano and only 15 degrees Celsius on Monte Bar, which is, with the intense sun of the south, pretty warm when walking and we definitely will broke a sweat pushing the pram up (we were in T-shirts part of the way), but coming down, the sun setting, it turned pretty cold quickly! We really needed the fleece and especially for a child in a stroller, not moving much, you need to bring something warm and snug.
Stroller with air tires: It’ll make the last bit of the walk a lot easier. We managed to push ours up with some effort, but it was definitely possible. We also encountered another person with a pram (i believe they didn’t have air tires), so we were not the only ones making the effort… If you don’t want to make an effort with the stroller, bring a carrier for the last bit or prepare to have your little one walk for a little bit or carry him/her so you can just drag the pram up the hill.
Snacks/food/water: It seems logical, but as you are walking towards a mountain hut that serves food, you may think you don’t need to bring food. When we got to the capanna it only served a variety of salami and cheeses as it was one of the last weekends of the season and relatively late in the day and they only had food they could preserve for a longer time left. It might not be what you want after a long hike. To prevent disappointment, you can also call them in advance. Water you can find in one or two fountains along the way, but if it’s a warm day, you’ll sweat a lot pushing the pram up, so bring a bottle of water. having said the before, we were very unprepared (we didn’t plan on hiking all the way up, but we did in the end) and we definitely survived!
Camera: you will regret not bringing a good camera, so make sure to take one! I only had my crappy iPhone, with a dirty lens, so excuse my pics…. Luckily my husband took some breathtaking pics while we were hiking up!
Cash: No way to get money on a mountain 😉
Note: this walk is not a “lovely little stroll”; you are walking up a mountain (1600 meters) and you will obviously need to make an effort pushing a pram with a child up the windy road. Two adults with no real hiking experience, and without any preparation, and a 2,5 year old in a heavy pram made it in 1,5 hours though, so definitely a hike that can be considered relatively easy. The whole walk, including relaxing at the hut, will take about 5 hours: 2x 1,5 to 2 hrs hours walking/taking pics and enough time to eat and relax before heading down (which goes a bit faster than up).
Take a look at the map at the bottom of this post. The place where you can park is marked. To get there you first drive towards Bidogno. You will enter the town on a street called Case Rossi. Stay on this main road and take a sharp curve left to stay on the same road, which changes names here to CA di Faritt. In the sharp curve that follows, don’t stay on the main road this time, but take the small road that goes off to the left in the middle of the curve. You’ll drive through a forest now. Just follow this road for about 7 minutes, until you get to a small parking. Good chance this parking is full on a beautiful day, so try to go as early as possible, or prepare to wait a bit if there are also no spots to park along the street leading up to the parking: with all the bikers and hikers, there is always somebody bound to leave soon.
From the parking it’s simple, you just follow the paved roads and signs all the way up the mountain to Monte Bar (Capanna Monte Bar). The walk is about 1h30min and is 80% over paved roads. The last 1,5km are over a unpaved road. With a stroller without air tires (back or all four) it will be a bit tricky to go up, but not entirely impossible.
Along the way you will pass another hut than the one we are trying to reach, Alpe Rompiago. May through September they should be open and they’ll sell cow and goats milk products. When we got there, they were closed unfortunately, but no problem, the view from here is stunning and can still be enjoyed.
Walk further up till you reach a little shrine on a gated piece of land, just before a sharp curve right. From the curve there is a small grassy path that leads away from the road. It’s worth getting your child from the stroller and walk a few meters down this path. You will be rewarded with a stunning view on the Lugano Valley from the Motto Della Croce.
Go back to the paved road and walk to the hut. The kids will love the large garden and you can enjoy the food, wine and view from a nice sunbed. If you like, you can also rent a room and stay the night at the hut.
From the hut you can decide to walk to the mountain top (not possible with stroller though) or return the same road you came: the other roads are mainly unpaved and thus much harder to walk with a stroller, but of course it’s an option to take the alternative road back to the car.
Agriturismo Alpe Rompiago
+41 (0)91 943 48 49
Pictures: all pics marked with an * are made by my better half using our Nikon SLR, while I was using my broken iPhone :-(.